While I’m not overwhelmed with work, instead spending my morning swearing at PC games I used to be quite good at (goddamn you, Speedball II) and preparing for an interview with an actor in a couple of hours, here are two things I wrote for Foxtel in 2014…in PDF form.
The Recruit: Not only did I have to interview host Ryan “Fryzie” Fitzgerald about his role in this AFL-themed reality competition show, I also had to be flown down to Melbourne to stay in a luxury hotel, chat to a few legends of the game and walk around on the grass at Etihad. In short, this was a tough one. The funniest part was being the first media that the potential recruits had done…and hearing them talk like seasoned sportsmen. Emulation of heroes doesn’t stop off-field.
Boardwalk Empire: Predicting what might happen in the final season without spoilering myself was easier than it sounds, given there was little to no information leaked prior to it airing. I didn’t do too badly as a Nucky Nostradamus, but the trick is to be vague. (And to have some awareness of American history at that point.)
Donning my most professional demeanour, I attended a corporate meeting at Stockland HQ in the heart of Sydney, along with m’colleague Ash in the guise of Audience Productions. This was shortly before everyone took a fortnight off for Christmas and New Year’s, but the deadline for this job was tighter that a freelancer’s belt over that period. After translating the arcane and eldritch language used in that company in plain talkin’, I went away and wrote a short script that preached the benefits of a new way of doing things behind the scenes.
They knocked it back, pointing out a bunch of other things that needed to be included, so I carved out version two of the script…which was accepted well in time for talented animator Dave Cochrane to weave straw into gold.
(You’ll have to click over to Vimeo to watch it.)
Lately my days have mainly been filled with writing and sub-editing stints at magazines such as Foxtel (the one you get with your pay-TV subscription to read about what’s coming up) and Take 5 (the one you get with your groceries to read about what gruesome/shocking things are happening in the world…and win cash on puzzles).
But in between that lot, I have also been doing some freelance subbing. A bit on the side worthy of the shady tradies that stalk Take 5‘s pages or Foxtel’s premium dramas.
One of the sites for which I have been taking other people’s words and polishing them is CruiseGuru. As the name suggests, it’s a series of blogs dedicated to mind-blowingly huge ships that traverse the world, offering luxury and comfort in between exotic shore leaves.
The entries themselves, written by experts, have opened my eyes to the intricacies of a field I hadn’t previously given much thought to. So now I pretty much want to take the earnings from this work and put it towards one of these.
Although with my level of fitness, these are probably more my speed.
Earlier this year I was summoned to a cool old building near Broadway Shopping Centre to write a website. Welllll, the majority of a website. It was for the Academy of Information Technology, which specialises in animation, filmmaking, digital design and related fields.
I spoke with a range of teachers, other staff and students to get an idea of what the place was like to work and study in, and did the vast majority of the writing on site, surrounded by the daily buzz of activity and community. When it turned out that four of us shared the same birthday, they organised a communal cake – even though I was an interloper.
The main things I took away from the experience were (a) markerless motion capture is really cool, (b) I wish I had studying animation, filmmaking and digital design when I was younger, and (c) writing marketing material for a website is a lot different from traditional journalism – especially when you have to use the same keywords again and again.
Fortunately, I’m a dynamic, nimble, constantly evolving writer with practical experience, in-depth skills and prominent functionality in a range of growing sectors encompassing opportunities as limitless as my imagination. So it was easy.
As predicted and not retrospectively altered, I wound up doing more interviews with stand-up comedians as they promoted their Sydney Comedy Festival shows. Some of them were done in my professional bedroom, and others were done as I walked around professional Hyde Park in my lunchbreak from working at Foxtel mag. Just to set the conversational tone for you.
Bert Goldsmith is the host of popular quiz/comedy mash-up The Sitcom Theme Song Singalong, which ran in Melbourne through April. If you’re sad you missed the chance to belt out the Friends theme in a room of equally festive audience members, I’m sure it’ll be back soon.
Daniel Muggleton is one half of Mug & Kettle, a comedy duo who run their own open mic night and have clawed their way to notoriety over the past year. I also reviewed their show, because he bullied me into it.
Chris Leben is a guy I’ve known for years, both socially and professionally. I hired him at People when we needed a junior writer, and now he’s moved on to more verdant fields at SBS. That hasn’t stopped him being a depresssed wreck though, thank God. (I reviewed his show here, too.)
Marty Bright hit me up for a chat over Twitter, and turned out to have a lot of interesting things to say about the craft. Apparently MCing is a great way to get your crowdwork skills up. Makes sense.
In addition to these luminaries, I have interviews with Mickey D and Matty B waiting on to be transcribed from my recording device (it’s an iPhone). Keep an eye out for them on What’s On Comedy this week…
In addition to my blogging duties over at videographic mainstay Audience Productions, who recently took flight in a helicopter, I have taken on another writing role for an industry not usually known for its storytelling.
At first, I was apprehensive about blogging for a removal company, but China Bear has such a strong history in Sydney that people’s eyes light up in recognition when I mention them! (Recently, I learnt they even featured in that Aussie cinema classic, BMX Bandits.)
There are plenty of interesting stories to be told in the moving caper, especially when the company focuses on shifting antiques, artworks and other items more interesting than your standard IKEA bookcase and Freedom couch.
One of the most interesting entries so far has been finding out exactly what’s involved in renting out your mansion for a reality TV series.
I’m just glad I get to write about moving furniture instead of, you know, moving furniture.
In the lead-up to the Sydney Comedy Festival, I’ve done a couple of phone interviews with local comics this week. Presumably there’ll be more to come, in which case I’ll change the word “couple” to “few” in the preceding sentence. Which will make that sentence nonsensical.
Rodney Todd was the host in my “How To Be Pregnant” video. He also tells jokes on stage and swears at a fictional nemesis in this interview!
Jen Carnovale hit me up on Twitter after she read Rodney’s interview, either because she thought I got straight to the heart of what it is to be a comedian…or because she thought I might sell her several more tickets.
They both said funny and interesting things, so have a read!
One of the things I do now is write a weekly blog. It requires me to get into the Romneyesque mindset of considering myself the personification of a corporation (in this case, Audience Productions).
The latest instalment regards a book launch which I, in human form, did not attend. But I, in corporation form, did.
Surely the Singularity is at hand!
Woah, I’ve written 10 columns for Working Life since I last collected them here. What an industrious and beaverish human I am.
How To Make The Most Of Your Commute: Amazing how getting a new job in an office in a suburb across two train lines (and a Harbour Bridge) inspires one’s writing.
How To Manage Time A-Part: The trials and tribulations of being a part-time worker, with particular reference to missing out on in-jokes and delicious wraps.
When Push Comes To Stab: Office politics with a sharp edge. :
Descending The Corporate Ladder: What to do when you’re sick of being the boss. Like that bloke in Starship Troopers who has himself busted back down to private so he can see some front-line action against the bugs. But less exciting.
Keeping Up Appearances: This could also be titled “Pretending To Look Busy At Work”.
Getting Ahead At Work Is A Matter Of Recognition: Not our pithiest headline, but reasonably straightforward.
In A Toxic Workplace, Are You The Problem?: Sometimes the greatest villain stares back at us from the mirror.
Nine Ways To Not Get A Job: This one is far more ‘Cubisian’ and funny than usual.
When The Pay Comes Late…Or Not At All: Also inspired by true events. But not in a bitchy way or anything.
How To Stay Fit At Work: The ultimate in do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do journalism.
Late last year, m’colleague Ashleigh Hanley asked me to formally join the loose collective of ingenious talent he has drawn into his orbit since 2005 or so, under the umbrella of
I wrote the copy for the AP website, which is why my official role is listed as “Overking“. Since Ash has grown the business from a small acorn of event coverage to a spreading chestnut tree of – hang on, do chestnut trees grow from acorns, or am I obliquely referencing 1984 for no good reason? – videography for a variety of Australian companies large and small, it was important to make each section of the site pithy, comprehensive, rapidly explanatory and completely free of Orwellian nods.
The main challenge was finding synonyms for “company” and “business” that didn’t read awkwardly. I can do the same for your money-making institution, non-proft concern, innovative consortium or solvent start-up syndicate.
Especially if it’s got more of a Burmese Days or Keep The Aspidistra Flying flavour. They’re far less depressing than all that Big Brother stuff.